Fireball International Week 2011 saw shining sun and an initial benign winds on day two. By the time the fleet got out on the water, the breeze was rising and the sun slipped behind clouds. This may not have been an unpleasant day but, it wasn’t quite as nice as yesterday, unless of course you were sailing a Fireball off Sligo.
18/19 knot SE winds were recorded by the committee boat for the greater portion of the day but, on path to the start it was gusting in excess of twenty knots and going to as much as twenty two knots. The SE is an offshore direction so the seas were reasonably flat.
Another two excellent races were set by the Race Management team with screaming reaches – some two-sailed – and a more acceptable length to the windward leg. Yesterday morning’s first race had seen very long beats but the RC took the appropriate actions to restore proper order both yesterday afternoon and today.
The first start today saw a leading candidate for victory capsized to tweak his rig, some others lost a minute in the countdown which led to a rather untidy start for some. However, the same group who had enjoyed early success on the water yesterday were to the fore again – the Scotts, Butler/Oram, Jospe/Egli, Grant/Butler, joined by Miller/Mulligan. Schulz/Bowley came from behind after tweaking their rig to join the fun and games at the front of the fleet.
Sailing fast and low, the Aussies gradually hauled in the others, who to that stage had been led around by Butler/Oram. Andy and Derian Scott sailed another stormer (excuse the pun) to show off the fact that height and weight are not the only way to sail Fireballs in a breeze. Behind these three came Grant/Butler, Jospe/Egli and Smyth/Bradley.
Race four of the regatta was held in similar conditions with the Scotts and Smyth/Bradley going hard left to the fleet’s various degrees of right. The left paid with Scotts rounding the first weather mark in first, followed by Smyth/Bradley.
The Aussies broke through halfway down the first reach to take second initially and Butler/Oram closed the gap to third at the leeward mark. Up the next beat, Butler/Oram got away and Grant/Butler, Jospe/Egli and McCartin/Kinsella closed by the second weather mark. McCartin/Kinsella got through but a split between either side of the course, left versus right, kept Smyth/Bradley in fifth at the third weather mark. Ahead of this group, Schulz/Bowley had gone into first, followed by the Scotts and Butler/Oram.
No sooner had the fleet got ashore than the wind started to build. Sligo this evening is wet and wild, but a great day’s racing has been had by all.
International Week Day 1 Action:
After a lead in period of two years for the Irish Fireball Class Association, the 2011 Fireball Worlds and International Week got underway on Ireland’s west coast with glorious sunshine conditions and winds of between 15 and 20 knots with gusts up to 22 knots from a WNW direction. Nineteen boats got International Week underway under the burgee of Sligo Yacht Club, with representation from Australia, Canada, GBR and Ireland. The expectation is that more boats will join in as the week goes on but those who weren’t here today missed excellent sailing conditions.
Two races were sailed today and visitors took the gun on both occasions. Australia’s Ben Schulz and Phillip Bowley took the first race from an initial group of five boats that included Canadians Joe Jospe and Tom Egli, Derian and Andy Scott, Noel Butler and Stephen Oram and Louis Smyth and Cormac Bradley. These five were then joined by Guy Tipton and Matt King and Graeme Grant and Hugh Butler.
Screaming reaches opened the gaps as the race progressed but at the end of the day the Aussies were comfortable winners followed home by the Scotts, Butler and Oram, Jospe and Egli and Ireland’s Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella, who came from behind having initially missed the start.
Race Two saw the wind ramp up a notch, but the author of this piece was only able to watch from the shore – victim of a windward roll at the second gybe mark of the first race.
The Scotts appeared to make it look very easy on the water such was the length of their lead by race end. Behind them came the Canadians, Jospe and Egli and the Irish trio of McCartin /Kinsella, Butler/Oram and Grant/Butler. Schulz and Bowley didn’t race the second race – a plan they declared in advance of going out on the water – but after today’s session they must surely be regarded as one of the favoured combinations.
Early days yes, but they will have the advantage of a week’s exposure to the racing environment before the other 'big guns' arrive. For Sligo, there must be enormous pleasure that the regatta is underway and the first day is completed without hiccup!
The Fireball World Championships and International Week is sponsored by Dubarry, Malin Waters, Interreg, Failte Ireland, The Clarion Hotel (Sligo), The Glass House (Hotel, Sligo), Sligo County Council and the ISA (Ireland’s National Sailing Authority) and runs from Saturday 11th June to Friday 24th June 2011.
Sailed: 6, Discards: 1, To count: 5, Entries: 21, Scoring system: Appendix A